Michelle Cretella Bailey: Michelle Cretella Bailey, Co-Artistic Director of Back Stage Dance Center LLC, has her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and possesses a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Quinnipiac College.

Michelle is proud to have been trained at The Dancer’s Studio, North Haven, beginning at the age three.  She studied Tap, Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Lyrical, and Hip Hop. She is a Master Teacher and continues to judge competitions and auditions throughout the United States and Canada.

Michelle is USGA safety certified in acrobatic instruction and is a nationally certified member & examiner of Dance Masters of America (DMA). Michelle is extremely active in the dance community and is a past President of DMA Chapter 18, CT. She graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo through the Dance Masters of America Teacher’s Training School Program.

Michelle believes strongly in professionals continuing their education; she attends classes at Broadway Dance Center, DMA masters classes and attends the Dance Masters of America national convention annually.

In addition, Michelle is a certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor at Shoreline Fitness.


Stacey Nagel Lankarge: Stacey Nagel Lankarge, Co-Artistic Director of Back Stage Dance Center LLC, began dancing when she was eight at Dawn Michaele’s School of Dance in North Branford. She studied Tap, Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Lyrical, and Modern dance. She won several awards in regional and national competitions.

To further her knowledge she attended classes at the New Haven Ballet in Madison.

Throughout high school, Stacey participated in the Educational Center for the Arts program. This program allows students to attend concentrated high school courses in the morning and artistic courses in the afternoon. While attending Quinnipiac College, she choreographed for and performed with their Dance Company.

Stacey is certified by Test to Teach through Dance Masters of America Chapters 26 & 18. Currently, she attends classes at Broadway Dance Center, NY & through Dance Masters of America Master Classes. When Stacey is not teaching, she is a Registered Nurse at Connecticut Valley Hospital.


Caity Branigan: Caity Branigan received her training in a variety of styles at The Dancer’s Studio in Northford, CT – including tap, jazz and ballet. As a part of their competitive team, she gained regional, national, and international recognition.

Caity attended Eastern Connecticut State University where she was a student coach of their nationally ranked Dance Team. She participated in the university’s Dance Ensemble where she performed and presented choreography for the American Collegiate Dance Festival along with other regional venues.

Caity received her certification to teach from Dance Masters of America , Chapter 18 and has since traveled to teach masters classes, and judge scholarships and classes.

Caity is most proud to have been made a Board Member of Kids for Kids, Dancing for Life Inc. in which she has been involved since it began.


Kristen Carpentier: Kristen Carpentier began dancing at the age of four.  In 2000, she began studying tap, jazz, ballet and hip hop at Back Stage Dance Center. As a student, she demonstrated outstanding leadership skills and was asked to be an assistant teacher.

Kristen has always had a natural gift for working with young children, and received her certification to teach from Dance Masters of America, Chapter 18.

She has an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts from Middlesex Community College, and is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree at Southern Connecticut State University.



Melissa Klein: Melissa Klein grew up in New jersey where she studied with Performing Arts Academy and the King Center for the performing Arts.  Melissa was awarded 12 competitive dance titles including DMA’s “Teen Miss Dance CT” and” Miss Dance NYC”. She was also chosen to study on scholarship at Broadway Dance Center, Steps NYC, EDGE LA and the Gus Giordano Dance Company.  After high school Melissa continued her dance training on full scholarship to Point Park University, where she earned her BFA degree in Dance.  Some of her professional theatre credits include” Damn Yankees”, “The Little Mermaid”, A Chorus Line”, “Annie Get Your Gun” and” Swing”.  She also toured California in the cast of” Guys and Dolls” and toured Europe with the New Generation Dance Co. Melissa danced in 2 National Commercials and numerous television appearances while living in Los Angeles.  Melissa loved performing in shows  at  Walt Disney World, Fl and also danced at Universal Studios with the band NSYNC . She  is very passionate about sharing her love of dance with others and has been teaching classes and master classes throughout CA, NJ, MA, PA, CT, NY, and FL  for the past 15 years.



Kimberly Spanier: Kimberly Spanier began her classical ballet training under the direction of Joyce Karpiej, former director of the Hartford Ballet School. She also spent summers studying at the Boston Ballet.

Kim continued her training and joined the Company of Connecticut Concert Ballet where she danced lead roles in productions of The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Balanchine’s Apollo, Cinderella and Snow White.

Kim now lives in North Branford with her husband Jay, and daughters Sofia and Ellie.


Skylar Kowalsky:  Skylar Kowalsky began dance lessons at age two with Kicks in Shelton under Zita Carrano’s tutelage where she continued lessons until the age of nine. At the age of five, Skylar began training at New England Ballet in Orange under the direction of Kenneth Hopkins. Among her instructors were Karen Goodman, Steven Hyde, and Linda Giancaspro. At the age of eight, she began pointe with Bei Ling in private lessons, which led to her acceptance into New England Ballet Company at the age of nine as an Apprentice, and by age fifteen, she had progressed to a Principal dancer. Skylar has attended several summer intensives including Ballet Florida under Marie Hale and Claudia Cravey, American Academy of Ballet under Mignon Furman, and Burklyn Ballet Theatre under Angela and Joanne Whitehill.

Skylar has been taught by renowned guest artists, Amanda McKerrow, John Gardener, Christina Fagundes, Arthur Leeth, David Howard and has performed various choreography by Victor Trevino and William Pizzuto.

Skylar has performed numerous roles in New England Ballet Company’s Nutcracker, including Clara, Snowflake, Russian & Spanish Princess, and Dew Drop Fairy. She has also performed various works of New England Ballet Company’s including Princess in Firebird, Cygnet and Neapolitan Princess in Swan Lake, Friend of Juliet in Romeo & Juliet, Red Riding Hood in the Adventures of Little Red Riding Hood, and the lead Peter in Peter & the Wolf for 10 years for school children through out Connecticut. Skylar began teaching ballet and pointe for New England Ballet School & Company, ranging in age eight to twenty-four. Skylar graduated from Hallmark Institute of Photography in 2011 with a Certificate in Professional Photography.


Sandy Taddei Nye: Sandy Taddei Nye has been dancing since she can remember and teaching her own classes since the age of 16. She has studied under Rita Whitney, Charles Kelly, June Taylor and Dick Farnsworth all of New York, Linda Juliano of East Haven, and the New Haven Ballet. She has been awarded many honors including Top Scoring Groups, solos and Duo’s, and National Choreography awards. Sandy is a certified member of Dance Masters of America. A past “Miss East Haven,” Sandy continues to sing and dance whenever she can.


Nicole Cretella Burke: Nicole is a lifelong heathy living enthusiast; her passion for fitness began at a very young gymnast in the Madison Park and Rec Gymnastics program.  Her passion for gymnastics was perpetuated in her competitive team years in club gymnastics at Shoreline in Old Saybrook; her strengths were always vault and floor. In 1993, Nicole’s commitment to the sport culminated when she and the Daniel Hand High School team dominated and won the state championship title.

Most recently Nicole turned her passion for living fit into something quite meaningful.  As an adult Nicole became an avid runner, challenged most by long distance running. By the end of 2015, Nicole will have completed 6 full marathons (26.2 miles). Her inspiration for running is her lifelong friend (and former gymnastics teammate), Liz. And together they formed the now international fitness based non-profit, OutRUN 38, which raises awareness for Cystic Fibrosis through running.

Nicole is a Literacy Specialist at East Lyme Middle School and resides in Clinton with her active children Cooper, 8, and Lucy, 6.   Currently Nicole is training for IromMan Lake Placid 2016 and encourages everyone to make the time to live fit!